Marine Pollution in South East Asia Region
Plastics pose a significant threat to marine ecosystems, with their widespread consumption and improper disposal leading to the contamination of rivers, lakes, and oceans. Plastics, particularly microplastics, comprise a large proportion of marine litter and can carry hazardous chemicals that negatively impact both environment and human health. Microplastics in seafood and their potential to bioaccumulate in the food chain further exacerbate the ecological and health risks. Despite existing regulations, an alarming amount of plastic waste, estimated at 9 to 14 million tonnes annually, continues to be dumped into the oceans, with projections indicating a tripling of this amount by 2040.
The concern is heightened in Southeast Asia (SEA), as this area has a significant consumption of plastics, and absence of adequate waste management systems. Significantly large quantities of plastic waste reach the oceans from these countries, disturbing the ecosystem of the entire region. Some studies indicate that over 80% of global plastic pollution originates from Asia, and SEA has a large share of 25% of this. Many countries in the region also have huge fishing and tourism industries, which get directly impacted by such marine pollution.
To address this issue, Toxics Link collaborated with WHO-SEARO to prepare a comprehensive White Paper on marine pollution, focusing on microplastics. The paper analyzed existing literature to identify sources, pathways, and risks associated with plastics and microplastic pollution in SEA countries with coastlines. Additionally, Toxics Link developed an information sheet highlighting global actions against microplastic pollution and proposed region-specific measures. Informative materials such as posters, infographics, films, and factsheets were also created to raise awareness about microplastics and their impact. Urgent efforts are needed to mitigate the detrimental effects of marine pollution and microplastics in SEA.